January 29, 2021
In the last article, I focused on integration. This week I’ll examine how you can improve your strategy by understanding the need for alignment in six key areas:
First, is vision. At its most basic, the purpose of strategy is to achieve your institutional vision. When strategy is not aligned, or pinned to vision, the result is an inability to focus, poor stewardship of resources, and no means by which to measure results. Rather than order, you will have chaos.
Your strategy must align with prioritized institutional needs. The key is “needs” and not “wants.” Needs must always precede wants. You may want more STEM students, but you need to update your science and engineering facilities before that can occur. Research into why students elect not to enroll or why donors give once but not again can be helpful in identifying your institutional needs.
Don’t forget marketplace needs. In particular, this means prospective students (and their influencers), donors, and employers. Understanding their needs will help assure the flow of resources to the institution. Strategy that does not align with the marketplace is likely to lead to further isolation, loss of support, and marginalization. Research into student and employer needs and competitor offerings can help make sure that your strategy is aligned with the marketplace.
Your strategy must align with your campus culture. Your culture is both stated (vision and core values) and unstated (this is the way we do things around here). Strategy that aligns with campus culture will benefit from tremendous synergy.
Fifth, your strategy must align with your existing resource base. Strategy that is not aligned with available resources will struggle at the implementation stage because dollars will be scarce, and contested. The result will be disillusionment.
Finally, your strategy must align with existing operational plans. Strategy that does not dovetail with existing operational plans demonstrates a lack of internal coordination and likely will not achieve the needed momentum to be successful.
As you develop your strategy, factor in the alignments outlined above. The result will be strategy that is much more likely to move your institution forward.
Interested in a discussion on how research can be used to identify critical institutional and marketplace needs? Please contact Becky Morehouse.